Commanding sweeping views of the African plains, where the vast herds of wildebeest roam, with excellent game drives and beautiful tents, &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp evokes the romance of safari. But what’s the thing we remember the most…? Read on to find out.
Have you ever realised how big Africa really is? The maps tell a lie. The standard map-of-the-world rendering, designed to preserve the lines used for navigation, distort the true proportions of continents and oceans further from the equator. The result is a common misconception that Siberia, Canada and Greenland are almost as big as Africa. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, entire Asia is comparable to Africa’s landmass.
It’s no wonder then that while the plains of Serengeti and Masai Mara are a tiny part of the African continent, on the human scale they are still vast. It is this region that’s the stage for the Great Migration, for many people symbolising the African experience.
Under the iridescent sky, the humungous herds of Gnu move like one giant organism, on a year-long treck that never ends. The area they traverse is massive. Even the Mara Triangle on its own, while only a small part of the migration corridor, covers more than 500 square kilometres.
A tiny spot on the map here belongs to a famous safari camp, and one sunny day that point was our destination. That day we crossed the border from Tanzania to Kenya, with the goal of reaching &Beyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp.
Located on the edge of the Mara Conservancy, this is a classic safari camp run by the well-known safari provider that specialises in luxury camps and lodges of unparalleled design. And just as many other properties of &Beyond, Kichwa in many ways exemplifies the local safari experience.
It’s one of the oldest camps here (established 1982!), and its layout and design remind us of the time before safari was the fashionable thing to do. All the same, the camp has undergone some updates recently, and their new tents are spick and span. Stylized and funky, these tents feel modern, fresh, and luxurious. Their chic elegance definitely resonates with our idea of a perfect safari accommodation.
The Oloololo Gate of the Mara Conservancy is very close by, so the thick of the wildlife action is just a short drive away. The landscape here is also the “classic” Mara, peppered by lone acacia trees and low bushes. The safaris are always interesting and the guides among the best there are (we were constantly amazed at just how good they were at tracking well-camouflaged animals — we even saw the black rhino, twice!)
Kichwa Tembo is proud of how much effort goes into social responsibility. Roughly half of the staff is recruited from the nearby Masaai villages, and the camp purchases products locally when possible (e.g. honey, organic vegetables). They also contracted a group of Masai warriors who perform cultural dances on scheduled days. We witnessed one of them and it was a thing to behold.
We suspect &Beyond’s investment into the local community shapes the staff attitude, in turn influencing the guest experience. This is because the people who work here make this camp truly exceptional. Many have been employed for more than a decade — always a good sign — and give out a genuine vibe of being a member of a big family rather than a hotel staff. They introduce this approach with a lovely, warm welcome singing “Hakuna Matata”, and strive to make sure the guests are taken care of at every moment during the stay.
Kichwa has many repeat guests. Among other things, the reason for coming back is the approach from every member of staff, ever so personal and warm. We often hear that this is “the best-loved safari camp in Kenya”, and this sounds about right.
Adventure, Classic, Glamping, Lodge, Quiet, Relaxing, Safari, Secluded, Wildlife,
Number of rooms & suites: 18
Rate per night: From €269
*The rate is only approximate and is based on our own independent research, at the time of writing. We cannot guarantee the rate in any way.
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